How to Plan Your Perfect Outdoor Kitchen

May 10, 2022 | Kitchen

The days are getting longer and the temperatures are rising. If you’re like us you enjoy being able to spend more time outdoors. You might be thinking about ways to optimize your backyard and expand its livability. What better way than with the perfect outdoor kitchen?

With the right approach, you can create a luxurious and functional space that you’ll want to retreat to time and again. From cozy family meals to large gatherings, you’ll think of any reason to cook, entertain, and dine outside

Ready to get started? Let’s take a look at how you can plan the perfect kitchen for your outdoor space.

Research Types of Outdoor Kitchens

To start with, outdoor kitchens are not one-size-fits-all. There are all kinds of setups you can choose from, ranging from expansive, high-end models to simple, budget-friendly ones.

If you want to keep things simple, you can stick with a basic built-in grill and a simple bar. Or, you can choose to get a little (or a lot) more extravagant, depending on your needs and budget.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few factors to consider during the initial planning phase.

Outdoor kitchen detail with running water faucet and natural stone countertop by Michael James Remodeling.

Understand Your Must-Haves

Do you love to spend a ton of time in the kitchen, cooking up large quantities of food to feed your friends and family members? If so, then you might not be satisfied with a small-scale setup.

Instead, you may need a large area to spread out your materials and complete all of your prep work. You may also require a range of different appliances, such as a traditional oven, pizza oven, and hibachi grill. An ice-maker may come in handy for keeping the crowd cool and comfortable.

On the other hand, you might be eyeing an outdoor kitchen as an extension of your in-house one. In this case, you may only need a few extras, such as a chopping area or cocktail bar. If this is the case, think about how far you’ll have to travel between the two spaces.

It is important to note that if you plan on being able to take care of everything from your outdoor kitchen you have more flexibility in its placement and you may have the flexibility to situate it a little farther away from the back door. However, if you intend to make multiple trips back and forth, it’s best to keep it as close as possible. 

Elegant covered outdoor kitchen with stainless steel appliances and wooden beams.

Think About Your Cooking Style

Next, think about the kind of foods that you typically enjoy creating and eating. Do you love cooking hot dogs and hamburgers over a charcoal barbecue grill?

Or, do you envision cozy pizza nights with a pepperoni pie emerging from a brick oven?

Keep in mind that you can add almost any appliance you want to your outdoor kitchen. This includes everything from gas or propane grills to griddles, smokers, and more. While it can be exciting to browse these options and visualize them in your space, you don’t want to invest in anything that you won’t actually use.

Start by thinking about the appliances you use the most in your current, indoor kitchen. Are there any appliances that you don’t have but wish that you did? Now is the time to incorporate those into your new space.

In addition to appliances, remember to add any other utilities that you’ll need to accommodate your usual meals. For instance, if you’re used to rinsing veggies from the garden for a daily salad, you’ll definitely want a sink in your food prep area.

Consider Luxe Additions

Once you’ve determined the features you need for your outdoor kitchen, think about the luxury items that could make it even more comfortable and functional for family meals or entertaining.

Depending on your personal style, this might encompass a range of additions, from a stunning range hood to a stone fireplace. You can even enlarge your outdoor kitchen to encompass other exterior living spaces, such as a sitting area, sunroom, or entertainment center.

In addition, you can also incorporate luxe touches by simply upgrading your finishes. Consider installing granite or quartz countertops in a cool, neutral color scheme. Invest in gorgeous bar stools that complement your patio furniture. Even the hardware on your sink or oven can make an impression, so look for ways to incorporate sleek metals, like copper or brass. 


As dusk approaches, you really need to see what you’re cooking. The best outdoor kitchen lighting will make your chopping, grilling, and serving easier. You’ll want outdoor task lighting placed above your grill or flexible lighting next to it. It should have a switch to turn it on and off independently of other lighting so you can use it just when you need it.

If you have a roof, pergola, or deck over your kitchen area, you can mount lights in the beams above, so they shine down on the grill. Flexible stainless steel grill lights are another option.

Of course, all sorts of lighting options can be incorporated in and around your outdoor kitchen to enhance the overall experience.

Enchanting evening at a lakeside home with illuminated string lights and a cozy outdoor fireplace.

Plan Your Layout

Walk around your backyard. Make a note of the space and placement of your outdoor kitchen. Now picture yourself working in your outdoor kitchen. How is everything arranged? Do you prefer the simplicity of a linear layout, or would an L-shaped layout be better suited to your activities?

You might consider a U-shaped layout that keeps everything a little more compact. For homeowners who love entertaining, an L-shaped or U-shaped kitchen offers a better layout for conversation, especially if you add in an island with plenty of seating.

However, if you just need a place to cook, then a linear layout will work fine. This design works especially well if you have a separate space on your patio designated for dining and relaxing. Just make sure to allow plenty of space between your countertop and kitchen island, so everyone can move around the area with ease.

If you aren’t sure how you’d like your space laid out, think about your current indoor kitchen. If it’s linear, do you like that layout? Or, would you prefer a more inclusive design that allows you to see and mingle with your guests while you work?

Use that space as inspiration for your next design. Repeat features that work well and eliminate those that don’t. Remember: This is your chance to start fresh and create the kitchen of your dreams! 

Outdoor kitchen pavilion with stone walls, wooden beams, and bar seating in a garden setting

Calculate Your Budget

Before beginning any type of home renovation project, take the time to create a detailed budget. This way, you know the features that you can comfortably afford, and you won’t spend time looking at models that fall too far below or above your average. 

While you’re crunching numbers, keep in mind that recent economic conditions will directly affect market prices. Around the country, demand is high and inventory is low, which means one thing: Costs are up.

Supply chain issues continue to plague major manufacturers, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your dreams of sipping wine as the sun sets. Instead, your best move is to be proactive. 

Prices may only go up from here, so it’s smart to get ahead of the curve. Even if you don’t plan to install your outdoor kitchen until next year, go ahead and initiate the project as soon as you can. This way, you can lock in prices with manufacturers, even if you don’t plan to execute the effort right away.

Hire an Expert

Sure, you can gather a ton of inspiration for your outdoor kitchen on social media sites or platforms like Pinterest. Yet, it’s putting it all together properly that can take work.

A kitchen design expert will know which elements to incorporate into your kitchen, and how to lay it out to maximize the space. Plus, they will be able to bring in all the other contractors you need, such as plumbers and electricians.

It’s well worth the cost of hiring a design-build contractor when you’re ready to start this project. They can also help you set a budget and work within it as you choose the features you want to include. The result will be a fully customized design, meant to enhance the way your family lives and eats.

Design Your Perfect Kitchen Today

We’re all spending more time at home than ever before. You deserve an outdoor kitchen that expresses your personal style and allows you to enhance your backyard living area.

While there are many different factors to consider, this should be a fun project with results that you love. At Michael James Remodeling, we’re committed to helping you turn your design dreams into a beautiful reality.

We’ll work with you every step of the way to design the perfect kitchen for your home and family. Contact us today and let’s get started together.


See: How to find the best remodeling contractor.


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